Monday, 18 June 2012

Trip to The Great Lakes Wineries

My family and I went on a planned trip to the Great Lakes Wineries to celebrate my mother's 70th birthday, which was officially on May 29th.  I think that this was one of my "easier" adventures to complete, as it was planned.  The plans had not been written in stone at the time of the start of the blog though, so I am glad it was something we were able to accomplish.  The best part about the trip was the time spent with my brothers Clifford and Robert and my sister Heather and their families along with my mother.  It meant a lot to be able to get together (we all live a ways apart from eachother) and do something for my mother who has done and continues to do so much for all of us.  

I tasted a lot of really fine wines and saw many beautiful sites around the great lakes on our trip.  Here are some of the pictures I was able to take to document the vacation. 

I drove up to Seneca Falls with my mom and my sister in law Shirley.  Here is the back yard at the restaraunt we ate at (the Aurora Inn) in Aurora, New York, looking out from the East Side over Cayuga Lake.

 A picture of the back of the Aurora Inn, where mom, Shirley and I shared a couple of Crab Rolls which were outstanding and a Meat Platter which was rather underwhelming.  The town itself was VERY small, but quaint and pretty.  Wells college sat across the street from the Aurora Inn and looked to have a very beautiful campus from what I saw of it. 

The Hotel Clarence, located in Seneca Falls, New York derives it's name from the Angel (Clarence Oddbody) in Frank Capra's classic movie It's A Wonderful Life.  The movie plays on a continuous loop in the lobby of the Hotel.  The town of Seneca Falls is rumored to be Capra's "model" for the fictional town of Bedford Falls depicted in the movie.  Here's a look at the bedroom my mum and I shared.  That's her lovely orange, floral suitcase, which she has owned since before I was born, sitting at the foot of her bed.   Shirley would be disapointed that I did not fully capture the chandeliers hanging over the beds in this picture.  Sorry Shirley.  But rest assured they were quite lovely.

  We visted the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion along Canandaigua Lake, which was about a 45 minute car ride from out hotel in Seneca Falls.  Here's the outside of the Mansion in the first picture.  Sonnenberg means Sunnyhill in German, or so we were told by our tour guide, whom I am want to believe.   The second picture is of the Rose Garden at Sonnenberg.   The third picture is of a walking bridge that takes you to the Japanese Rock Garden. 

I really enjoyed the Sonnenberg Mansion and the grounds there.  I have tons of pictures from there, but only shared these three so as not to bog down the blog with photos.  After the trip to Sonnenberg where we also had a wine tasting, we visited the Belhurst Castle, along Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York. 

We had a nice lunch at Belhurst Castle, but there was a wedding going on at the grounds so it was a bit more difficult to walk around and enjoy the sites.  Never the less, of what I did see, I was not as impressed as I was with the grounds at Sonneberg.  Given time to do only one or the other, I would suggest that people visit Sonnenberg. 

We went to "Winestock" at the Three Brother's Wineries and Estate in Geneva, New York.  There were a number of tents set up where people could sample wines from about 10 different local wineries.  I would recommend to anyone considering doing a tour of wine country (where ever your "wine country" my be) that you not put any of the special events run by these wineries at the center or you tasting experience.  That may simply be from my personal preference, but with the large number of people at these events it is much more difficult to enjoy the personal attention you get while visiting the wineries on an idividual basis.   I enjoyed winestock but it was quite hot out and I think that if we had chosen to designate a driver and go from winery to winery (not difficult with so many located within close range to one another) we could let our palates settle a bit more and get out of the heat between tastings.  If I get the opportunity to go back, I am definitely getting a driver to take me around on a tour of the wineries, so I can enjoy them at my leisure without feeling rushed.  

Our hotel was located directly next to the Women's Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center, on the corner where the first women's sufferage meeting took place in Seneca Falls, New York.  We really enjoyed touring the museum, it is a bright spot in the town of Seneca Falls which unfortunatley seems to be going through a bit of a rough spell economically right now.   Carlyn might be interested to know, if she didn't know already, that New Zealand and her home country of Australia were the first two countries to give women the right to vote.  The United States, trailed, falling about 10th or so on the list.  It was really neat to read about Lucrita Mott, Susan B. Anothy, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and the other women and men who played pivotal roles in America's suffrage movement.  The museum did a great job of showing the great strides that women have made towards equality, and also showed the areas in which America needs to continue to improve if women are going to have a truly equal standing with their male counterparts in the work force and politics. 

We were very fortunate to have absolutely beautiful weather throughout the trip.  If any of our readers are wine lovers or even history lovers, I would higly recommend a trip to the great lakes region.  (Picture is of sidewalk art in downtown Senca Falls) 


  1. I loved your post Jon. The hotel you stayed in reminds me of the bed and breakfast in the movie, Groundhog day. Not that it looks anything, like it, I don't remember what it looks like but the cosy town reminds me of the one in Groundhog Day.

  2. Thank you Carlyn and Nathalie. It's always difficult for me to choose which photos to share. I literally took over 300 photos on my trip. I feel like sharing a bunch on a seperate site would potentially over-saturate the visual sense. Hopefully I picked some good ones.

    Actually Carlyn, I may have mentioned this or may have forgotten it in the course of our conversations, but I have been to the town in Groudhog Day before. The town of Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania. My twin brother and his wife live about a 20 minute drive away from there. They actually have giant painted groudhogs all around town. I've seen Bennington, Vermont do the same thing with painted Moose before. I'm not sure what the Groudhogs and Moose are made of, but it's a great community bonding event, as local businesses and families are charged with painting the animals.

    They keep the little groundhog in a viewing house they have made for him in the local library during the rest of the year, so you can actually see him year round if you ever visit. =)

  3. I didn't know you could see Punxsutawny Phil all year round. That's good to know!


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